"If you wish to move a reader, write more coldly." --Chekov
There is this overarching, cool people, serious writer kind of thing that utterly loathes the sentimental. I suppose I can understand that to an extent. But I would go so far as to say that I am a sentimentalist writer-- at the least, walking right up to the line of it and peering over. Some will say that makes writing too feminine (gasp!). That it's purple. But maybe I'm purple. I'm not the only one not afraid to speak out about some sentimentalism. Two of my favorites, in fact, Charles Dickens and John Irving often make great use of it. And Irving has a whole essay about it.
I think what people really don’t like is the weight you feel as a reader that something was laborious. You don’t want to see the strings, see a lot of effort in the writing. That you can’t be both natural and sentimental. I think people equate sentimentality with being manipulated. (Manipulation of your emotions also has a time and place, yeah? Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.) Either way, I think you can be natural and sentimental.
All I know is that I’ll do whatever I have to do to gut you. If it’s three words, fine. If it’s 300, that’s fine too.
But the best times of my life were when I was reduced to mush from what someone said. Sometimes these are private moments I have alone with a book or a letter. Sometimes they’re the conversations of a lifetime—on a couch, in a hotel bathroom, on the phone while I walk 40 blocks down Manhattan.
I don't want to write more coldly.
I want your heart on the table.
You decide how easy you’re gonna give it to me.
More Rise shortly…
"When people say that Dickens exaggerates," George Santayana writes, "it seems to me that they can have no eyes and no ears. They probably have only notions of what things and people are; they accept them conventionally, at their diplomatic value." And to those who contend that no one was ever so sentimental, or that there was no one ever like Wemmick or Jaggers or Bentley Drummle, to name a few, Santayana says: "The polite world is lying; there are such people; we are such people ourselves in our true moments, in our veritable impulses; but we are careful to stifle and hide those moments from ourselves and from the world; to purse and pucker ourselves into the mask of conventional personality; and so simpering, we profess that it is very coarse and inartistic of Dickens to undo our life's work for us in an instant, and remind us of what we are." Santayana is also brilliant at defending Dickens's stylistic excesses: "He mimicks things to the full; he dilates and exhausts and repeats; he wallows," Santayana admits, though he adds, "this faculty, which renders him a consummate comedian, is just what alienated him from a later generation in which people of taste were aesthetes and virtuous people were higher snobs; they wanted a mincing art, and he gave them copious improvisation, they wanted analysis and development, and he gave them absolute comedy."
Another interesting article